The second of several scheduled Farm Bill hearings, focusing on conservation, was held on Feb. 28. This hearing explored the Conservation Title’s important investment in America – the nation’s fundamental resources of our water, soils and other natural resource infrastructure – through policies that help farmers maintain soil health, keep our water clean and available, our food abundant and safe and our wildlife plentiful, so as to protect the basic principles of farming and our way of life for future generations. Here are excerpts of testimony presented during and the hearing:
“The pressures in agriculture are immense. I am concerned that we are losing a diversity of crops and farms that are good for rural communities, the environment and our economy. I believe Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is part of the answer to helping maintain that diversity on the land. Without the CSP it would have been more profitable the last couple years to plant my entire farm into one crop, like corn, but with the CSP I was able to maintain a four-crop rotation which helps reduce erosion and provides for greater wildlife habitat.”
Darrel Mosel, farmer
Darrel Mosel Farm, Gaylord, Minnesota
“The 2012 Farm Bill can improve upon this solid foundation by continuing the commitment to a strong conservation title that streamlines conservation programs, increases flexibility to address the most pressing conservation needs of agriculture and emphasizes projects that address regional priorities and leverage resources, so that the public conservation investment goes further.”
David White, chief
Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.
“As we look to the future of CRP, FSA will continue to look for ways to ensure that CRP focuses on the most environmentally sensitive acres through the general sign-up and increasingly through continuous enrollments. Given the pressure on the program from rising crop prices and from a difficult fiscal environment, it is critical that FSA ensure that the program maximize the public benefits from each acre enrolled in the program.”
Bruce Nelson, administrator
Farm Service Agency, USDA, Washington, D.C.
“After talking with many of my fellow producers, I would like to share the following guidelines that I believe will allow our conservation programs to continue the legacy of success they have built: Keep programs simple. Keep programs local. Keep the staff of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service as friends and advisers to farmers, not enforcement agents for the federal government.”
Dean Stoskopf, wheat farmer
Stoskopf Farmers, Hoisington, Kansas
“While the most sensitive acres should remain and likely will remain in the Conservation Reserve Program, with economics prevailing many acres in Montana, suitable for farming, will not be re-enrolled in CRP. These acres will be used to produce food. But we have to protect our original conservation investment. So, it’s critical that farmers have the incentives and assistance that working land programs provide to farm these acres in an environmentally satisfactory way."
Carl Mattson, farmer
Mattson Farms, Chester, Montana
“NACD supports consolidation of programs as an important part of the Conservation Title. Individual, private landowners will benefit from streamlining when programs are easier to access and manage. As we look at consolidation, we must be careful not to lose any of the critical program functions that help complete the cycle of resource needs on the land.”
Earl Garber, president elect
National Association of Conservation Districts, Basile, Louisiana
“NFWF adds value to NRCS and Farm Bill conservation programs by providing financial and other resources and, ultimately, helping to bridge the divide between agricultural production and working lands stewardship. During a time of fiscal constraint and limited staff within NRCS and other federal agencies, enhanced partnerships with non-federal organizations are especially important, and mechanisms to foster these partnerships, at the lowest cost and greatest efficiency, should be prioritized in the 2012 Farm Bill.”
Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Washington, D.C.
“Conservation programs in the Farm Bill are a major factor in reducing and eliminating these threats to the Great Lakes. Although much more needs to be done, without the Farm Bill Conservation Title the Great Lakes would be in much worse shape.”
Becky Humphries, director of Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office
Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan